Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pri's Curved Seams Challenge entry!

Guess who signed up for my Curved Seams Challenge on January 29th and finished the next day?
Pri from Sri Lanka!!!!
Congrats on meeting the challenge!!!

Pri doesn't have blog, so I'm happy to host her project today.  
I'll give you some quotes from her email to me:
I was so excited with the curved challenge & as you'll see burned the midnight oil to complete just one cushion cover. My intention is to do 2 for my sister whose color scheme is green."
"I'm really thrilled I was able to do those curves & get my circle ( it wasn't easy, much unpicking :)  ) .  'Cos I was so pressed for time I think  it all became really hard.  I added the trim but also hope to add some sequins as the dull green needs some bling but I just don't have time to do it for the challenge."
 Many kudos to Pri who stuck with the challenge even when time was short and the going got tough.  I applaud your effort and commitment!  I also love your cushion.  Those curved seams are tricky and to try a new technique and finish a project all in one day is quite an acomplishment!  Thanks so much for giving it go and I hope you won't be a stranger.  Go-getters like yourself are very inspirational for procrastinators like myself.  Here's another pic of your lovely cushion:

Click this button to learn more about this challenge:
Curved Seams Challenge Homepage


Friday, January 25, 2013

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

My Curved Seams Challenge project is finally done!  I posted about the beginning stages of my project HERE.  I used a great tutorial by Leanne at She Can Quilt.  Leanne also includes a video--how nice is that!!!
So I made my own template, followed Leanne's instructions, made 8 drunkard's path blocks, sewed them into 2 big blocks, and then bordered the blocks with 4 inches of grey fabric.  Here's a pic of my 2 panels:
They were rather large 20" square panels, one for each side of my tote.  

Now, I have blogged about quilted totes before HERE.  I gave pretty good instructions on how to assemble the totes, but I came up with some new tricks in constructing this newest tote, so I thought I'd share them with you.  

If you'd like to have a flat bottom on a tote without adding a separate gusset, you have to match the side seams to the bottom center and stitch through the corners.  I explained this step in detail on my previous quilted tote tutorial.  You can see from the pic below that the overall shape of the bag changes drastically according to how much corner you cut off:
 When you start with square or rectangle front and back panels, the resulting shape of the bag is no longer square or rectangular after you create the bottom this way.  The top opening will always be wider than the width of the bottom.  HOWEVER, if you start with a trapezoidal (triangle with it's head chopped off) you can end up with a rectangular tote bag with a nice flat bottom!
So, I trimmed each of my panels so the top width was 4 inches shorter than the bottom width.  Or more simply put, I cut from the bottom corner to a mark 2 in. from the top corner on each side.  Was that simpler?    Perhaps this picture will be more helpful: 

I made the sandwich of the top panel, the batting, and the lining panel for each side, and then I machine quilted through all the layers.  The first panel I quilted in concentric circles.  I loved the effect, but all the stopping and starting was tedious.  On the other side I made one big spiral instead.  The effect was just as good and the quilting went much faster:

Another something new I tried with this tote was to add an interior pocket.  You can see the stitching on the outside of the bag, but I didn't think it was too distracting.  The alternative was to stitch it in by hand and I wasn't up for that.  Here's a couple pics of the pocket:

Next, I trimmed up the panels and attached them right sides together with bias tape.  I finished the top edge of each panel first, and then placed the panels together and finished the side and bottom seams.  I didn't bother with neat finishes on the bottom corners because I was just going to cut them off later anyway:

Here's some pics of how finished the corner seams.  Let me know if you have questions:

I added the handles, and the tote was done!  The most trying part was the quilting.  I have no patience for quilting and it ruins my back.  The best part was finally getting to try out some curved seams!  So here are the glamour shots of the finished tote.  I even pulled it inside out so you could see the inside.  I love the pallet and the mix of patterns.  I was into black and browns for a while, but grey is definitely my new favorite neutral.  I just love it with everything!

Here's a good shot taken by Mr. Ricochet.  You can see that starting with the trapezoidal shaped front and back panels resulted in a very rectangular-shaped bag:

You can learn about the Curved Seams Sewing Challenge here:
Curved Seams Challenge Homepage

Happy crafting and big hugs from Montana,
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Before you click away, I'd like to invite you to join in my current sewing/craft challenge.

Since this whole curved seams thing is new to me, I'm linking up to Celtic Thistle Stitches' New to Me in 2013 link-up party!  It's a great party to share what you've learned and get inspired by others' projects.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cleaning the dirtiest iron

How dirty is your iron?  When was the last time you cleaned your iron?

Yikes!  This iron came with my husband who got it over a decade ago.  As far as I know, I'm the first person to clean it.  Sad, right?  I have no excuses.  I'm just a lazy procrastinator.  Yes, I am.

I have been pinning various iron cleaning methods, and decided it was time to try some out.

First up is salt:

I poured some salt on a towel and ironed over it on a medium heat setting for several minutes.  I noticed some cleaning was occurring, but the results were less than satisfying.
It was working though. You can see how dirty the salt got:

Next up was dryer sheets:

I tried both new and used dryer sheets with the heat setting on low to medium.  I put a white piece of paper between my ironing board and the dryer sheet.  As you can see, some grime was eventually transferred to the dryer sheets:
However, after griming up 4 dryer sheets, I couldn't see much of a difference in the surface of my iron.

Next was steel wool:
 I didn't find a pin using steel wool, but I figured I needed something abrasive to get this junk off.  I just spread out a thin layer of steel wool on a sheet of paper and ironed over it, rubbing back and forth and in circles.  This method showed the most significant cleaning power, but my arm was getting tired by this time and the going was so slow.

What worked?

2 minutes with a damp Magic Eraser on a cool iron and the whole stinkin' thing was shiny and clean!
I used up half an eraser, but it was much faster and easier than any other method.  
Just look at the difference:

I promise I won't allow my iron to get this dirty EVER AGAIN!!!

How about you guys?  How dirty is your iron?

Happy crafting and big hugs from Montana,
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Before you click away, I'd like to invite you to join in my current sewing/craft challenge.

Since this is a first for me (and my iron!) I'm linking up to Celtic Stitches' New to Me in 2013 Linky Party!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Curved Seams Challenge WIP Update

 I gave myself the deadline of Jan. 15th to come up with a project for my Curved Seams Challenge.  Yesterday, Jan. 14th (one whole day early!), I decided to make a quilted tote bag.  I even finished the front and back panels.  They turned out pretty funky.  They will not be everyone's cup of tea, but they sure are mine!  If you've been reading for a while, you know how much I love the color green, and how I love to experiment with mixing prints.  I'm already excited about this tote and I probably still have 2 more afternoons of work to do on it.

I've been so obsessed with the drunkard's path quilt block that I just had to try it out for myself.  I experimented a bit with scrap fabrics, trying to find the easiest way to create the template myself.  I figured it out eventually, made these:

Then came time to pick out the fabrics.  I had some nice quilting fabric in a rich solid green so I started with that.  I added a stripey green pillowcase, some shiny/slinky polyester in a '70s print, and a bright yellow solid that used to be the curtains in my son's nursery.  Hindsight is 20/20 and I never should have added the silky print.  I don't know what I was thinking.  OK, I know what I was thinking!  The print was so retro and cool and the colors were perfect.....I figured I could MAKE it work.  I tied it all together with a heavy weight grey cotton fabric.  Green is my favorite color, but grey is my favorite neutral!  I'll use the grey for the bottom, sides and handles.  

The first thing I did to MAKE the silky fabric work, was to add some lightweight fusible interfacing.  My reasoning was that it would then only have one slippery side.  My logic was faulty, of course.  Sewing is all about placing right sides together, and the slippery side is right in this instance.  

The silky fabric is synthetic and doesn't like the hot iron I needed to press the cotton fabrics down.  It also got all bunchy and puckered up on the curved seams.  I'm guessing this was because the top and bottom fabrics weren't feeding at the same rates.  Probably I should have used my walking foot....  Again, hindsight is 20/20.

In spite of the wonky seams, I pressed on and finished two 16 inch square panels that will make up the front and back of my tote.  The puckering won't be so noticeable once the panels have been quilted.  I hope....

I'm going right to the sewing room after I post this, so I can start on the quilting.  I'm thinking concentric circles....but I'm apt to change my mind.

There are still two weeks of challenge time left.  If you'd like to give it a go or read the guidelines, click this button:
Curved Seams Challenge Homepage

Happy crafting and big hugs from Montana,
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Before you click away, I'd like to invite you to join in my current sewing/craft challenge.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Freezer Paper Printed Placemats

Way back last summer, I started some quilted placemats for our table.  I started 8 placemats and finished 2 which I proudly gifted away to our dear cousins.  I called the 2-sided mats Mullet Mats:

[read this post]
So I finally finished the last 6 placemats!!!!  It only took about 6 months!!!
The mats are reversible with one "fancy" side comprised of patchwork:
The other, "utilitarian", side is printed with a place setting:

Growing up, the proper placement of silverware and napkins on the dining room table was not enforced.  In fact, I remember most of our meals were self-serve from the kitchen stove, and we brought our plates and forks to the table or to the couch in front of the TV.  My first encounter with place settings was at Girl Scout Camp, where I thought the whole ordeal was a pointless ritual.  

It wasn't until I was grown, married, and had my first child that I committed to eating all meals at the table.  Why the change of routine?  Being a new mom, I was reading everything I could get my hands on about raising kids.  I noticed that nearly every source recommended eating together as a family every day.  So I did.  (Mr. Ricochet was less than keen about missing his dinnertime show, but he eventually came around to my way of thinking.)  

After 8 years of this routine, I can tell you my 8 and 6 year olds have excellent table manners.  They are deft at buttering their own bread and cutting their own meat.  Plus, we can rarely go out to dinner anywhere without someone coming up to our table and commenting on how well mannered and polite our kids are.  The biggest benefit by far is maintaining a connection with each other.  We love dinner and not just because it's a prelude to dessert!  

The kids have been  setting the table for some time now, and these new printed place mats have injected a little fun into the chore.  They remind the kids to cut with their right hands too--something that tends to slip their minds from time to time.  

I made printed on these mats using a freezer paper stencil, something I'm sure you've all heard of before.  Used to be freezer paper was for wrapping up your meats.  But some brilliant (seriously clever) individual found out one could iron freezer paper to fabric (and use it over and over again!), it moved from the kitchen drawer to the craft room in a hurry!

 I have never used fabric paint, so I can't comment on whether or not acrylic craft is better or worse for printing on fabrics.  I can say that my results are wonderful, and the print still looks great after a few machine washes.  The paint I used was a pearl variety by Martha Stewart:
It used to be acrylic craft paint was for painting birdhouses and the like,but nowadays I'm finding all sorts of alternative uses for craft paints.  Maybe you've read my tutorial on No Dye Tie Dye?
paint your own birdhouse

I started this project by drawing out my place setting on a sheet of freezer paper:

 After carefully cutting out all the shapes, I ironed the paper to some fabric.  
Note how I treated the fork and napkin differently than the rest of the flatware.
I also added a circle within the plate just to save paint:

And here's what I ended up with after pulling off the freezer paper:

And here's 4 mats that are complete:

Here's a better photo taken in natural light so the colors are true:

The "pearl" of the paint is subtle.  It has an almost reflective metallic quality when the light hits it just right.  I'm pleased with the results.  I'm excited to show off the "fancy" patchwork sides next time I have my friends over for coffee.  

How about you all:
Where did you eat meals as a kid compared to now?
Have you ever tried the freezer paper stencil method for printing on fabric?
I love freezer paper for drafting sewing pattern.  What do you use it for?

Happy crafting and big hugs from Montana,
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linking up here:
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